Tried the new Black Market restaurant in Garrett Park this weekend. This place shows real promise...
First, the setting. For those who remember the old building and its resident cafe, the site has been totally gutted and rebuilt. The new restaurant occupies three rooms - one large one that also includes the bar and the kitchen entrance, and two much smaller ones. The largest room is nicest. The bar, with 8 or 10 tall stools, is also set for food service.
Decor is "Restoration Hardware" style in a modern-equipped Victorian-style building. Hardwood floors, high ceilings, tall windows, french doors that lead onto the front patio, light green interior paint and black iron fixtures all created a neat and welcoming, but not kitchy, atmosphere.
Food: we had a light dinner - a squid salad, a cup of soup, a burger to share, and dessert. Husband enjoyed the salad (squid was marinated, then grilled and served over arugula in vinaigrette with pine nuts and - YUM - thin and crispy onion rings that turned out to be totally addictive). Soup (tomato with lemongrass) was fine but not remarkable. The burger, however, was incredible; cooked exactly to temperature, it was substantial, juicy, and flavorful - with just a bit of charring to make it especially yummy. Was served on a kaiser roll that had itself been lightly toasted - and also comes with tomato, lettuce, and more onion rings on the side. Optional add-ons include cheese (cheddar, jack, or bleu) and bacon. We chose the bleu; a generous portion arrived bubbling on top. Delectable.
Dessert was an apple crisp, also delicious.
Dinner was around $38, including tax and tip and one drink each. Service was attentive and professional, with only a few kinks that wouldn't be unexpected in a brand-new place.
In general, the menu somewhat resembles that of Addies in range and style. Lunch features appetizers (salads, soups, Thai-style mussels, and other seafood), pizzas, panini sandwiches, burgers, salmon, and "southern fried" chicken. Dinner has much of the same, with more substantial entrees including scallops, hanger steak, and shrimp over grits. Lunch entrees are $7-$14; dinner $10-$21.
The dining room was nearly half-full when we arrived at about 6:15 and full-to-waiting by the time we left. This is an early-dining crowd, it appears.
We were so impressed by our dinner (and curious) that we returned for Sunday brunch. It was just as good. We had: a pecan roll, two bowls of creme-fraiche-topped fruit (good stuff - not so much filler as other places), and an egg "sandwich" with sausage on brioche toast. All were utterly delicious. The eggs were creamy, not dry or runny, and actually had flavor; the sausage (link) was smoky and wonderful; and even the home fries were done well: not dried out or overcooked, they were moist and full of onion and pepper flavor to spice up the potatoes.
The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner, and also does some breakfasts (including Sunday brunch), although the days and hours for breakfast seem to be somewhat in flux, according to our server.
They also sell a few kitchen staples (thus, we supposed, the name "Black Market"), including gourmet sodas, chips, Sarabeth preserves, salamis, etc.
In sum: a great new addition to the otherwise-bleak food scene between Bethesda proper and North Bethesda. Worth a try.